I didn't know anyone griped about the price. Again, quality of components with described functionality is worth real money.
In the higher end of pro audio, certain transformers can almost become the stuff of folklore, and you'll find some very polarized opinions on the virtues or sins of transformer balanced versus transformerless balanced circuits. Don't even look at serious microphone preamps. I can think of at least one that will cost you $3,500 for one single channel of mic amplification, and $1,000 per channel is routine. That's to do one thing only: amplify a microphone signal to line level. That's it.
There is also the additional feature of saturation effect, but I'm less concerned about that. A nice benefit though.